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Fake elector punishment and other election security bills pass 2024 Colorado Legislature

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Lindsey Toomer

(Colorado Newsline) With a presidential election on the horizon this year, Colorado legislators passed a variety of bills to add protections for voters and further secure the state’s elections.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s priorities going into the 2024 legislative session focused on protecting voters from manipulative campaign content, particularly related to artificial intelligence.

While some bills have already become law, some await a signature from Governor Jared Polis.

Here are some of the key pieces of election-related legislation that passed this session, which ended Wednesday.

House Bill 24-1147: Deepfake disclosures

Colorado candidates will need to disclose if they use generative artificial intelligence in their campaign communications under this bill.

It would require political candidates to clearly label advertisements that feature content generated by AI. That includes fake voices, videos and images created by a computer to look or sound like an individual, which are known as deepfakes. It is focused on identifying AI-generated political content, rather than controlling its distribution.

Candidates who are subject to an undisclosed deepfake could pursue civil action under the bill.

“Deepfake technology is a direct threat to our democracy, and I am proud to be focused on defending transparency in our elections,” bill sponsor Senator Chris Hansen, a Denver Democrat, said in a statement. “Voters deserve to know which media they consume is real and which is manipulated so they can make informed decisions at the ballot box. These guardrails are essential to protect the integrity of our elections and ensure fair races for both candidates and voters.”

The bill has not yet been signed by the governor.

House Bill 24-1150: Fake electors

After the 2020 election saw a slew of fake electors, Colorado lawmakers made it illegal to serve as a fake elector ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

The law creates a fine of up to $10,000 for anyone who contributes to a fake elector scheme, and it would disqualify that person, if convicted, from holding public office in Colorado.

“Schemes to undermine our presidential elections are a direct attack on that democracy and the values upon which our nation was founded,” bill sponsor Representative Jennifer Parenti, an Erie Democrat, said in a statement. “This legislation clarifies that those who participate in or conspire to create a false slate of electors are committing forgery and perjury and are therefore subject to prosecution under Colorado law. The legislature has a duty to the people of Colorado to send a strong message that elections matter and we will do everything in our power to protect the integrity of their votes.”

The bill has been signed into law by the governor.

Senate Bill 24-72: Voting in jail

This bill would require county sheriffs to designate someone who would be responsible for informing confined individuals of their eligibility to vote and coordinating with the county clerk to set up a temporary, in-person voting center at their local county jail. The bill is the first of its kind in the nation.

“Every eligible citizen should be afforded the opportunity to participate in our democracy, full stop,” bill sponsor Senator Julie Gonzales, a Denver Democrat, said in a statement. “But thousands of people in county jails face numerous barriers to exercising their right to vote. This bill will require eligible confined voters to be given that opportunity, and will help ensure more Coloradans are able to cast a ballot and make their voices heard.”

The bill has not yet been signed by the governor.

House Bill 24-1067: Ballot access for candidates with disabilities

A new Colorado law will require that access to the caucus nominating process is accessible to candidates with disabilities.

Sponsored by Representative David Ortiz, a Littleton Democrat and the first Colorado legislator to use a wheelchair, the bill also requires that a virtual option remain available for any nominating process, as knocking on doors to gain petition signatures isn’t an accessible option for many people with disabilities.

“There are many future community leaders who are often kept out of the political arena because our political systems are not accessible,” Ortiz said in a statement. “This crucial bill works to improve accessibility in all levels of government, specifically through making virtual participation available at caucuses and party assemblies. The very foundations of democracy are dependent upon making sure every voice is heard and represented, and this bill ensures all candidates have an opportunity to participate in Colorado’s political process.”

The bill has been signed into law by the governor.

Senate Bill 24-210: Modifications to election laws

Colorado Senate President Steve Fenberg, a Boulder Democrat, led a second round of modifications to the state’s election laws. He sponsored a similar bill last year making changes to Colorado election law.

One significant change would recalibrate the number of people who serve on a party’s vacancy committees — which select candidates for state House and Senate seats in the event of an opening — to ensure better proportionality across various districts.

The 56-page bill makes many small changes to Colorado’s election code and the Fair Campaign Practices Act. Another change allows voters to file a complaint if they suspect a public official isn’t complying with financial disclosure requirements.

“Colorado’s elections are the envy of the country — but there are always adjustments and improvements we can implement to make our election system even better,” Fenberg said in a statement. “This bill will allow more Coloradans to have their voice heard in the case of vacancies and improve access for young voters, in addition to strengthening our financial disclosure laws.”

The bill has not yet been signed by the governor.


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